Lula Owl Gloyne was born in 1891. She grew up on the Qualla Boundary, the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and attended a mission school there before continuing her education at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, a college for minority students. After graduating, she taught for a year and then entered the Chestnut Hill Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia. In 1916, after graduating, she became possibly the first Native American registered nurse. She obtained a job as a missionary school nurse on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Wakapala, South Dakota. In 1917, she became a second lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. She was the only member of the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians to serve as an officer in World War I. She had met jack Gloyne in South Dakota, and, after reuniting with him at Camp Lewis in Washington State, she married him. In 1921 she and her husband returned to the Qualla Boundary. She worked at the school clinic without pay for some time, and her advocacy was instrumental in the building of a small hospital on the reservation. She was also involved in conducting an important public health survey and giving free immunizations. She became Head Nurse at the hospital but continued to do public health work throughout the area. After her husbandâs early death, Owl Gloyne moved to Oklahoma and then returned to Cherokee, holding various nursing positions until 1969. Even after her retirement, she remained active in her community. She died in 1985.
This recording is incomplete; parts one and three of the four-part interview are missing and may be added to the website at a later date. The name of the interviewer is also unknown. The portion of Owl Gloyneâs story that is available is fascinating. She discusses her training, her nursing exam, and the differences between her education and the ways in which nurses are trained now. She describes her early work in South Dakota: the health problems faced by her patients, her interactions with practitioners of traditional medicine, the language barrier between herself and her patients, local customs, and the scarcity of doctors in the area. She discusses her marriage, which she kept secret for some time so that she could continue working. Owl Gloyne recounts her return to the Qualla Boundary and discusses the health problems and health care on the reservation over the course of her time there. She talks about the opening of the first hospital in Cherokee, her experience delivering babies and providing patient screenings, and the advantages and disadvantages of traditional cooking. She also discusses the travel challenges, from learning to ride a horse to fording streams in her car, that she encountered in her public health career. Owl Gloyne was relatively isolated from other health care providers many times during her career, and she discusses the independence and the responsibility that these circumstances gave her.